It has been five years since the new big-three era began in Boston. Five great years and it may all end today or very soon as the Celtics' biggest rival looks to steal Ray Allen.
Ray's interest in the Heat leaves Celtics fans wondering how he could possibly do this to the team with whom he won his only career title. He played on painful bone spur stricken ankles during these last playoffs doing all he could to help defeat this hated, but yet so talented Miami Heat team. While unsuccessful but within 8 minutes of achieving the goal, how can Ray decide to quit on the green team and join the once again overwhelming favorites in the east? Allen could go from legend to devil in Boston fans' outlook within the blink of an eye. Would he really deserve this hatred though?
While Ray Allen has remained a fixture as the Celtics' go to shooter for the past five years, the process of going in another direction has already begun. Yes, again the Celtics have decided to bring back most of the roster from last year and could definitely use a great shooter's 3-point touch off the bench, but this is not an absolute necessity. The Celtics are excited to plug their 21 year old shooting guard, off of shoulder surgery, back into the starting lineup and have him pick up where he left off last season. Avery Bradley transformed the Celtics from a middle-of-the-pack playoff team to neck-and-neck with the Miami Heat as the best team in the east upon his insertion to the starting shooting guard position this past season.
Coming off the bench, as he did after Bradley claimed the starting job during his absence, is something Ray Allen supposedly does not like. Not only does he not like it, with the players most likely rounding out the 2012-2013 Celtic roster, it strictly does not favor his playing style. Although allegedly not the best of friends in recent times, Ray Allen does best when playing with Rajon Rondo, or in general the likes of a distributing point guard.
With a new second unit consisting of Jason Terry (a streak scoring guard who will most likely play the point) and Jeff Green (who will get his shots), Ray would probably not be the go-to sixth man we all saw at the end of last season and early in the playoffs. Playing with a deep variety of shot-makers within the rotation as a whole, you may see Ray running around picks looking for the ball without his teammates earnestly trying to find him as they have in years past. This really may not be the best team for Ray Allen. Do you not think he's considering that?
Let's be real here and write off sentimentalism because this is a game played by professionals doing what is best for their lives. Take into account that yes the Celtics can offer more money and the opportunity to build on a legacy that began five years ago. Also think about the negatives for Ray to come back and play out his career in green. While Celtics fans see just the positives, Ray Allen has a different perspective that none of us could come close to possibly envisioning.
Consider Miami's beautiful weather during the winter months where Ray can play his second favorite sport, golf. Think about Boston's winter weather. Realize that Miami could be the perfect bridge to retirement for Ray. Playing for a team with arguably the two best slashers the NBA has seen in the past ten years, do you think the greatest three point shooter of all time would not be appreciated as the man standing behind the three point line? Miami again will be the most feared team in the NBA even with a legitimate big-4 surfacing in Los Angeles. Shane Battier surely loved this type of role and will be there for more. Does this type of opportunity not sound astounding for Ray?
This 2012-2013 Boston Celtics roster is extremely deep. Not only is the roster deep, but both guard positions and the small forward position are basically covered up without Ray on the team. They have five players (Rondo, Terry, Bradley, Pierce, Green) to fill these positions already who need at least 25 or so minutes per game. You can make the argument that Jeff Green (assumed to sign) will play a lot of power forward, but we all know that he is better suited playing the three. Adding Ray to this group could create a log jam and make playing time an issue for some of them or force Doc to go small too often. This type of problem is not needed and the true backup shooting guard (or even point as Terry can play both strongly) may be most useful for a young player tying to make his mark in the league a la E'Twaun Moore. While seeing Ray Allen on this already deep roster may look great, is it truly best for the Boston Celtics?
When the Celtics began the 2007-2008 season with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett on the floor together as teammates, Celtic fans alike could not comprehend what they saw. Three of the fifty best players of all time entering the end of their prime years playing together for the hometown team. This was just six months after finishing 24 and 58 the previous season. The 2007-2008 Celtics had a magical run where they won their first championship in 22 years and Ray Allen was just as big of a reason for this as his two big-three partners. Now at the very end of all of their respective careers, this team just does not revolve around these three players as it formerly once did. Ray's decision is his very own and will have consequences. The possibility of seeing a #20 hang in Boston will be gone as well as his chance to be a part of banner-18. Whether he decides to make his move to South Beach or stay here in Boston, I'm sure Ray will make the right decision. You know, Ray Allen is a professional.